Did a double-take…when I looked out the window to the backyard earlier today. There in the grass, just a few feet from the patio, stood an impressive organic mass – a hefty white mushroom that (to the best of my knowledge) hadn’t been there the day before.
It’s no “Baby Bella,” I assure you. We’re talking a full 7 inches of mushroom. This bad-boy must weigh a pound…or a pound-and-a-half. And it grew to that size literally overnight.
Certainly enough to catch the eye…and dazzle the imagination. And it got me thinking about the gospel reading I’d heard at Mass earlier today. It’s a familiar story – Luke recounting how Jesus had cured the ailing servant of a Roman centurion…without ever actually entering under the soldier’s roof.
There’s a lot of intriguing detail in this miracle story. But I was drawn to one phrase in particular – where Luke writes,
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him…
Wait a second: Did I just hear what I thought I heard?
…that a human being (and a Roman centurion, no less) managed to amaze the God-Man, Jesus?
After all, God knows everything, right?
So how is it possible that any one of us – even on our best days – could amaze God?
…Unless, perhaps, this is part of what it means for us to be made “in the image and likeness of God.”
God is actually in the business of amazing. (If you don’t believe it, I’ve got a bad-boy mushroom I’d like to show you.)
But what boggles the mind is that God seems to be open to – and delighted by – the notion that we’d want to participate in this creative and redeeming power. And so, it does actually wind up being possible for the centurion – with his unexpected display of faith – to amaze the very God who gave him life.
This is an unsettling notion, to say the least. It may even offend our sense of order and righteousness…the things we tend to think we “know” about God.
But we would do well, it seems to me, to let God’s amazingness settle into our hearts.
We need to ponder it.
We need to recognize it, this amazingness – particularly when it shows up in places or people where we’d least expect it.
And I think that’s particularly true for those of us who are Catholic, and have been brought low in recent days…by reports of a church power structure that has been far less than amazing in executing its leadership responsibilities.
The message of the centurion is that God can – and does – put “amazing” into unexpected people and places. Not only that, but God delights in the results, when they say “yes” to their divine invitations.
More on this topic, in the days to come…
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.